It’s around this time of year that I find people really start to notice the lack of daylight in the evening. We are fortunate here in Winnipeg that we still get a lot of sunlight, but the sun setting before dinnertime is tough on many. Whether it’s the “winter blues” or a depression that follows the patterns of the seasons called “Seasonal Affective Disorder” (or, SAD); take steps to improve your mood and get back to feeling like yourself.
A great first step is to make an appointment to see your family doctor. If you do not have a family doctor, it is a good idea to try to get one. You can contact the Family Doctor Finder for assistance. A doctor can assess and diagnose depression and also rule out other possible biological causes for your symptoms. You can also discuss adding vitamin D supplements, which some research demonstrates can improve depression.
For some people, they find that light therapy is very effective. The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba rents high quality SAD lights, so that you may try one out before purchasing. They are simple to use, and less than ½ hour in front of the light in the morning can improve the mood and energy level for some people after as little as 1 week. Light therapy is not recommended for all individuals (such as those with Bipolar Disorder or cataracts), ask your doctor for more information.
If you are experiencing the “winter blues” or Seasonal Affective Disorder, you don’t have suffer alone. Evidence demonstrates that Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), which looks at noticing and changing unhelpful thought patterns, can be effective in treating depression and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Contact me to see if psychotherapy could be right for you.